While similar on the surface, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserves may appear to be very much the same thing. Their training and benefits are nearly identical, and even talk about deployment is very similar. However, there are many important differences that a person should know about these two branches of the Army, and what their purpose is supposed to be.

Army National Guard

The National Guard, often referred to as the modern form of the militia, is organized by state. In times of peace, the National Guard answers to the leadership in its particular state and assists with emergencies such as fires, flooding and assisting police efforts in disasters. It is only in times of war that the National Guard can become federalized and deployed, and the National Guard is supposed to be the last line of defense, and the last to be activated.

Army Reserves

The Army Reserves, as the name might suggest, are the soldiers that the Army calls upon when it needs backup. Reserves are usually stationed close to home, and are not considered to be on active duty when trained. However, if the regular Army begins to run short on manpower, then the Reserves are activated to fill the gaps. The Reserves usually come before the National Guard when it comes to war time activation.

Training

Both the Reserves and the National Guard offer roughly the same training to their soldiers. Both the National Guard and the reserves offer to teach those who enlist useful skills, and to assign soldiers to tasks and jobs they show an aptitude for. In addition, the schedule for training these troops is roughly the same. One weekend a month, and two weeks per year is all the time they ask in order to keep their soldiers sharp.

Benefits

Both the National Guard and the Reserves offer a slew of benefits to their soldiers. Legal representation, medical insurance, education (especially the G.I. Bill), and life insurance are all on the list. These services are sometimes the reason that candidates sign up for the Reserves and the National Guard.

Pay

Payment, as with any other place in the military, varies by the rank of the individual. So, those with higher rank and more experience will get more money. Payment for these two parts of the armed forces are roughly the same, with the lowest ranking soldiers earning a little over $2,800 per year, and the highest ranking over $5,000 per year.